I stumbled across this article in the Washington Post a few weeks ago, and was instantly struck by how a small act of mentoring can so greatly impact someone in the long term. To summarize, Rebecca Varney was a bug obsessed child who sought out the advice of an entomology faculty member at the University of California at Berkeley. He took the time to have her visit his lab and to interact with his specimens. This first introduced her to the concept of a PhD, where she could “spend her life researching them.” That meeting stuck with Rebecca Varney for years, and she earned her PhD in biological sciences and is now working as a postdoctoral researcher at UC Santa Barbara. She recently reconnected with the faculty member over Twitter, and his mentorship came full circle.
I shared this story because as a career advisor, I very frequently advise students to conduct informational interviews and to seek out the advice of experts. Many students are reluctant to reach out, for fear that they may be bothering people. And you will not hear back every time you reach out to a potential networking contact. But there are lots of people out there who are enthusiastic about what they do, and you may be just the right person for them to share this enthusiasm!
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